The Anabolic Cycle Timing is Everything

The Amount of Time Required for Muscle Gain

^Professional athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and veteran martial artists know that real gains in muscle and strength require time. While fat burning is a process that can be initiated instantly through diet and exercise, muscular growth is a slower event that takes place in a wavelike manner. Understanding and applying these principles is crucial for effective muscular development.

An anabolic event occurs in two critical stages. The first stage is growth stimulation, and the second is growth activation. The first stage, growth stimulation, involves the actions of hormones and compounds that stimulate growth, including the peptide-stimulating hormones (LH, GHRH), adrenal hormones, cellular factor cAMP, and prostaglandins.

The second stage, growth activation, is also the concluding stage that facilitates actual muscle gain. This stage involves the actions of anabolic hormones, including steroids and growth hormone that were previously stimulated by the first stage of the anabolic cycle. The amount of time it takes to complete both stages of the anabolic cycle is the amount of time required for effective muscle gain.

Muscle gain occurs under the following three conditions:

1. The anabolic actions of complex hormones that include steroids, GH, thyroid, and insulin.

2. Complete and sufficient nutrition that includes all essential proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Carbs should also be regarded as both anabolic and anticatabolic food for muscles.

3. Energy. High cellular energy is required for the repair and buildup of muscle tissue.

If one of the above conditions is compromised, whether it's a hormonal deficiency, insufficient nutrition, or low cellular energy (due to low thyroid or insulin resistance), growth may be severely impaired.

Growth: Timing is Everything

Muscular development is part of a primal survival mechanism that originally helped animals and human beings adapt to physical stress and hardship. Each of us carries an inner code that governs our reactions to environmental changes. Most primitive, single-cell organisms such as amoebae or bacteria respond to changes in their external environment such as changes in temperature or food availability. More advanced multicellular living organisms such as animals and human beings must also respond to changes in their environment to stay alive.

Human survival depends on an elaborate network of cellular communication. Different signaling agents require different threshold times to induce their related actions. The duration over which signaling agent actions occur varies. Some actions, such as those of prostaglandins, take a fraction of a second, whereas others, such as steroid actions, last hours or even days. In other words, growth agents have either an

Eg immediate or a delayed impact on the body. Understanding this fact is critical for ultimately inducing muscle gain.

Short and Long Anabolic Impacts

The different time periods required for various hormonal impact on the body is the factor that dictates the manner through which growth occurs. Learning the time-impact factor can help you take advantage of the anabolic cycle to induce effective muscle gain.

As mentioned, hormones and their actions have a short or a long-lasting impact on the body. Interestingly, those hormones that have a short effect are often capable of generating an immediate impact on the body. On the other hand, hormones that have a long-lasting anabolic impact often deliver it in a delayed manner.

Short, instant impacts on the body are generated by adrenal hormones, insulin, and stimulating hormones such as ACTH, LH, and GHRH, whereas long-lasting but delayed impacts are generated by steroid hormones. The actions of cellular factor cAMP and prostaglandins depend on their related inducers (adrenal hormones and EFA, respectively). In other words, the impact of cAMP clearly depends on adrenal actions. Because adrenal actions are immediate and short, so are cAMPs. However, physiologic conditions such as fasting and exercise prolong adrenal actions and their related cAMP impact.

Finally, even though the impact of prostaglandins occurs in a split second, the accumulating effect of EFA on prostaglandin production can facilitate long-lasting prostaglandin actions.

To prevent any confusion, here is a brief summary:

Adrenal hormones, peptide stimulating hormones, cAMP, and prostaglandins have an immediate and short impact that can last seconds to minutes to hours. Nonetheless, that impact could be prolonged under certain physiological conditions including fasting and exercise.

Steroid hormones have a delayed yet profound impact that can last for hours or even days.

Manipulating the Anabolic Cycle

Why People Fail to Gain Muscle

The immediate but short-lived actions of stimulating hormones lead to the conclusion that the first stimulating stage of the anabolic cycle is fast but short and fragile. On the other hand, the delayed but long-lasting actions of steroid hormones lead to the conclusion that while the second stage is slow, it can persist for days. Most importantly, you can also see how the long and profound anabolic actions of steroid hormones clearly depend on a preliminary short but fragile stimulating effect.

Many athletes fail to fully activate the first stage of the anabolic cycle. This preliminary stimulatory stage is quite unstable and can be abandoned as soon as it begins.

Bodybuilders and athletes who have poor eating habits and follow incorrect exercise routines miss the opportunity to establish a strong growth stimuli. As a result, they are unable to reach the second conclusive stage of the anabolic cycle, and they fail to gain the muscle and strength they desire.

The use of anabolic drugs is a way to bypass the first stimulating stage of the anabolic cycle. However, every shortcut has its price. The dark side of anabolic drug use is well known and well documented. Aside from shutting off the body's own production of anabolic hormones, anabolic drugs can adversely affect blood pressure, liver cholesterol, and lipid metabolism, and can cause overexpression of aromatase (estrogenic effect), hair loss, acne, growth of internal organs (such as abnormal growth of heart or intestines, which may lead to cardiovascular problems or overgrown "big guts," respectively) and cancer. Following the anabolic cycle naturally with no shortcuts may be a slower process but much more effective in the long run.

Exercise and Rest

Chronic activation of hormones such as adrenals or stress-related

peptide-stimulating hormones seem to adversely empty all available hormonal reserves and lead to adrenal exhaustion or hormonal insufficiency. Such conditions may severely compromise the body's reaction to stress, diminish thyroid hormone functions, suppress libido, and impair growth.

Cycling between periods of action and rest is therefore necessary to effectively reach anabolic states. Length of training (volume) and exercise intensity are both important factors in inducing growth stimulation. Nevertheless, periodic rest and relaxation intervals are as important as workout sessions. Although exercise activates the first stage of the anabolic cycle, rest combined with proper nutrition closes the cycle and activates the final second stage, which facilitates the actual growth. As noted previously, one of the most important anabolic effects occurs during deep sleep, when growth hormone release reaches its peak level.

How to Take

Advantage of The Anabolic Cycle

You can practically activate the first growth-stimulating stage of the anabolic cycle through undereating and exercise. Fasting and physical stress induce adrenal actions that activate cellular factor cAMP. Adrenal hormone actions coupled with the cAMP effect on peptide-stimulating hormones and GH release during the day grant overall anabolic stimulation with a bonus of fat burning.

An excellent recommendation is to minimize carb consumption during the day. Doing so prevents long-lasting daily insulin spikes that may suppress the preliminary growth-stimulating process. Insulin antagonizes adrenal-cAMP actions and is therefore likely to suppress their initial growth-stimulating effect. However, as you'll see later on, insulin has a profound anabolic effect during the following second stage of the anabolic cycle. Therefore, ingestion of carbs after exercise or during the evening meal can help finalize some critical anabolic actions that require insulin interference to be fully effective.

For muscle gain, it is critically important to induce the first stimulating stage. Undereating combined with periodic short, intense training sessions is probably the most efficient method of enforcing this short

lived, fragile stage of the anabolic cycle. Failing to establish a strong anabolic stimulating effect may significantly reduce your opportunity to establish a potent anabolic state.

Overeating at night, while maintaining a high nutritional state that includes the correct EFA ratio, sufficient complete protein supply, and enough carbs or fat to grant maximum cellular energy yield and insulin support, helps facilitate the second, and final, anabolic state. Note that the above growth cycle can take a couple of days. The practical method of inducing the two critical stages of the anabolic cycle day in and day out, stimulating and facilitating anabolic states, is a most efficient way to increase the probability of muscle and strength gain. However, like any other biological process, the anabolic cycle benefits from practical adjustments.

Stated simply, people have different metabolic demands and therefore require specific dietary and exercise modifications that help satisfy their unique needs. Since we've already covered the role of EFAs in regulating growth, let me mention again that both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the completion of the anabolic process, however, with different ratios adjusted according to a person's individual needs.

While arachidonic acid helps in signaling growth stimulation through proinflammatory prostaglandins and cytokines, during exercise omega-3 long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA help stabilize insulin and reduce liver and blood cholesterol, thus improving fat utilization and steroid hormone synthesis. Most importantly, omega-3 oils and their active derivatives help balance the actions of AA, thus protecting the body from chronic overmanifestation of AA that may lead to chronic inflammation that can further lead to muscle waste.

People who use steroids or other anabolic drugs may need to increase their consumption of omega-3 oil to help protect the body from fatty liver disease or cancer. However, overconsumption of omega-3 to omega-6 (which seldom happens because most people suffer from omega-3 deficiencies) may adversely affect fat loss and growth. Therefore, it is important to maintain the correct ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

Eat to Grow

Bodybuilders and athletes should consider meat and eggs to be the most anabolic foods. Arachidonic acid, which is abundant in meat and eggs, helps to induce initial anabolic stimulation. Meat is also rich in mitochondria, which contain all the essential nutrients for muscle tissue. Vegetarians or vegans may live longer with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but they may also compromise their ability to naturally increase muscle mass. It is a known fact among nutrition experts that vegetarianism may adversely compromise sexual desire and potency.

However, by incorporating certain food combinations, including certain beans and nuts, vegetarians may reclaim their virility and potency and assume anabolic potential. Nuts, especially almonds, have been considered an aphrodisiac food from the time of antiquity. With their superior nutritional content, almonds should be regarded as one of the most potent anabolic-supporting foods. Certain kinds of vegetarianism, such as lacto vegetarianism, can be a very effective diet. Dairy products such as whey ricotta cheese made from goat, sheep, or buffalo milk, are excellent sources of protein rich in branch chain amino acids. Whey protein, when processed correctly, is often an excellent additional protein as well.

Conclusions: the Anabolic Cycle

• The first stage of the anabolic cycle's effect is immediate but short and unstable.

• The second stage of the anabolic cycle's effect is delayed but can persist steadily for days.

• The body has limited peptide-stimulating and adrenal hormone reserves. Chronic activation of these hormones, such as from overtraining, can result in adrenal exhaustion, hormone insufficiency, and the body's impaired ability to cope with stress or induce growth.

• Undereating combined with exercise is the best way to lengthen and stabilize the short and unstable stimulating effect of the anabolic

cycle's first stage.

• Overeating while maintaining a high nutritional state, including the correct ratio of EFAs, complete protein, and sufficient carbs and fat help facilitate the anabolic cycle's second and final stage.

• Both omega-6 and omega-3 are necessary for the completion of the anabolic cycle. Omega-6 is primarily a Stage I preliminary growth-stimulating agent. Omega-3, primarily a Stage II agent, is an antiinflammatory that helps the body recuperate and build tissue.

• Both exercise and rest sessions are necessary for inducing a maximum anabolic state.

The Anabolic Cycle

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